Ex Libris is played over a series of rounds in which players will take turns sending assistants to acquire books for their bookshelves.
You will attempt to make sure that your books are in alphabetical order, on stable shelves, with more prominent works than your opponents, as few banned books as possible, a well-rounded variety of categories, and as many of your library's focus as you can manage.
There's a lot to juggle if you want to become Grand Librarian, but don't worry,you can handle it! First, let's talk about books.
The 510 unique books in the game are spread across 152 cards and divided into six categories.
The Six Categories
Note: The six categories are equally represented in the deck of book cards, with each category appearing 85 times.
Book Card Anatomy
The top portion of each book card provides you with four bits of important information:
1 Letter - This tells you the first letter of the titles of every book on the card. 2 Numerical Order - This tells you the order the card falls in among all the cards that share the same letter. 3 Letter Quantity - The second number in the info banner reminds you how many book cards in total share the same letter. 4 Category Icons - Every card displays two to four category icons, which correspond to the book types.
In order to add books to your bookshelf, you will be shelving cards, which can be achieved in various ways described later in this rulebook. Regardless of the source, you must always follow these two basic rules when shelving a card:
A new book card must be shelved orthogonally adjacent to a previously shelved card. diagonally is not allowed.
Your bookshelf may never be more than three horizontal rows tall.
Example: A new card added to the bookshelf above may only be shelved in the spaces indicated in green. The spaces indicated in red are not allowed because:
1 This space would extend the bookshelf to be four horizontal rows tall. 2 This space is not orthogonally adjacent to a previously shelved card.
Note: At the end of the game, only cards in your bookshelf will count toward your final score - cards left in your hand won't gain you anything. Shelve them while you can!
Visitors to your library will need to be able to find the books they are looking for easily. With this in mind, the Mayor requires that all the books in your shelf are in order alphabetically, and has instructed the Official Inspector to remove any books that are out of order.
During the inspection at the end of the game, starting with the leftmost book card in the top row of your bookshelf and moving left to right, top to bottom, any card whose letter does not follow the previous card's letter and numerical order will be flipped face down to show an empty shelf section. Therefore, the category icons will no longer count toward your final score.
Example: At first glance, the three cards above may look to be in order, but the numerical order of the M cards (8 and 3) is incorrect. At the end of the game, the center card would be flipped face down.
Note: Prior to inspection, you may choose to voluntarily flip any card in your bookshelf in order to achieve a more favorable result.
Example: Imagine you prefer not to lose the category icons on the center card from the previous example (for reasons that will be explained shortly). You could instead voluntarily flip the card on the left, leaving the remaining cards in the correct order.
The Mayor is, understandably, concerned with the safety of the town's citizens when visiting your library, so the Official Inspector will also be surveying the stability of your bookshelf.
You will earn a bonus at the end of the game for the largest rectangular group of cards in your bookshelf that includes cards on your bottom row. Every card in that rectangular group will earn you I point. A rectangle must be at least two cards tall and two cards wide to Qualify.
Example: The bookshelves shown above would score the following shelf stability bonuses at the end of the game:
1 9 points - not bad! 2 8 points - halflings appreciate short shelves! 3 0 points - no rectangle can be drawn that includes cards on the bottom row! 4 12 points!
Note: Flipped cards still count toward your shelf stability bonus, so shelving a book card out of order may occasionally be in your best interest.
The town's citizens enjoy a wide variety of books, but one category in each game is determined to be their overall favorite. The card that was dealt to the Prominent Works space on the town board represents this popular category.
The players who have the most books that match the Prominent Works category at the end of the game will receive awards. First place earns 15 points, second place earns 9 points, and third place earns 4 points.
Example: At the end of a game where Reference Texts are the Prominent Works category, Jacob has 8, Jamie has 10, Reena has 9, and Alap has 7. Jamie has the most and will earn 15 points. Reena has the second most, earning 9 points. Jacob has the third most, earning 4 points. Alap has the least and receives no reward.
Note: 15 points is a lot, but be careful not to ignore other scoring areas in the pursuit of the most Prominent Works.
The Mayor and Village Council have, for whatever reason, identified one category of books that they find particularly dangerous. The card that was dealt to the Banned Books space on the town board represents this forbidden category.
The Official Inspector will penalize you at the end of the game for having Banned Books in your bookshelf. Every book of this category will cause you to LOSE I point.
Example: At the end of a game where Monster Manuals are the Banned Books, Alex realizes he didn't pay enough attention and has an unlucky total of 13 Monster Manuals in his bookshelf. He loses 13 points and vows to pay more attention next time.
Note: Losing points is nothing to be happy about, but there will likely be times when taking a card with a Banned Book will earn you more points than you will lose.
The Mayor wants to cater to the town's diverse population, and will require the Grand Librarian to have collected a broad spectrum of books. It's in your best interest to make sure your bookshelf isn't lacking in the five non-banned categories.
When the game ends, you earn 3 points for every book in your bookshelf of the category which you have the least of. Banned Books are not considered when assessing Categorical Variety.
Example: At the end of a game, Ruth has 5 Fantastical Fictions books, 9 Historic Volumes books, 7 Monster Manuals books, 6 Reference Texts books, and 6 Spells & Potions books. She earns 3 points for each of her Fantastical Fictions books (15 points total), since it is the category she has the least of. Corrupted Codices were the Banned Books category and weren't considered.
Note: Ignoring a category is the easiest way to lose a game of Ex Libris. So if you want to lose, we recommend doing so!
The Mayor and Village Council have outlined pretty clearly what they do and don't want in the bookshelf of the potential Grand Librarian, so how are you to stand out from the crowd? The answer is your library's focus -your collection's wow factor that you'll keep hidden from your opponents the entire game. By shelving books that match your library's focus, you may be able to display a specialization no one else has!
At the end of the game, you will reveal your category card and earn 2 points for every book in your bookshelf that matches that category, which isyour library's focus.
Example: At the end of a game, Chris reveals his library's focus to be Monster Manuals. He had been taking and shelving them at every opportunity and has 14 Monster Manuals books total in his bookshelf. He earns 2 points for each, which adds up to a sizable 28 points.
Note: Be careful not to be too obvious about which category isyour library's focus, or your opponents may figure it out and attempt to keep you from collecting those books.